After the year we’ve had, there’s no better way to blow off some steam than on the ski slopes, but Colorado-based physiotherapist Kristen Douhan cautions that while it may be tempting to head out at the first sign of snow, many people haven’t been able to maintain their strength and fitness over the last few months, which can result in injuries – and no-one wants an injury right at the start of snow season!
At her clinic, Kristen and her colleagues provide strength training and conditioning classes for skiers and snowboarders that typically start around 6 weeks before season kicks off, to ensure their clients are physically prepared and to minimise injuries.
She says, “Our Interval programs are designed to facilitate muscular strength and endurance for the quadriceps and glutes, which help to prevent some common injuries. In skiing, lower body injuries happen more often, specifically knee injuries - with ACL injuries being one of the most common. This could be due to factors such as fitness level, flexibility and anthropometric differences, which can all be addressed with a proper strength and conditioning program prior to ski season.”
External factors such as ski type, ski binding setting, slope and weather1 also contribute to injuries, with ski binding being the most common problem – if the binding doesn’t release, rotational force can compromise the ACL. In a recent study, the authors researched the relationship between ACL injury and ski binding failure, and found that 77.9% of the injured individuals reported failure of the ski binding to release.1 Amongst snowboarders, wrist and shoulder injuries are the most common, as they typically fall backwards onto an outstretched arm.
Don't Forget Your Warmup!
“Apart from making sure you are as fit and strong as possible, and that you always wear a helmet, another important element, that is often over-looked, is your warm up. Getting your muscles warm and loose before any strenuous activity can really reduce the risk of soft tissue injuries, but this can be tricky in winter. I recommend the Wintergreen™ range of topical analgesics and warmup and recovery products to my clients as an effective way to warm up quickly, and also provide immediate treatment and pain relief for injuries before you can get medical attention,” says Kristen.
Wintergreen’s Sports Massage Therapist, Daliah Hurwitz, has over two decades of experience working with elite athletes and sportsmen and woman around the world. She says, “Wintergreen™ Heat Spray is a convenient pre-ski warmup option that can be sprayed directly onto the skin without, rubbing and leaves no greasy residue on skin, clothing and gear. The heating action kicks in fast and keeps building once you start moving, and keeps the muscles warmer for longer, even in freezing conditions. As the heat can be quite intense, Heat Spray should only be applied to targeted muscle groups that require warming up.”
The combination of Wintergreen oil, Methyl Salicylate, Menthol and liquid pepper extract provide antioxidant and pain-relief properties, improve mobility and flexibility in muscles and joints, relieve spasms and improve circulation, while keeping the muscles warm.
Wintergreen™ Menthol Hot Gel is a real multi-tasker for easing stiffness, aches and pains that are common at the start of the season, with long-lasting pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied lightly, Menthol Hot Gel has a cooling effect, but when massaged in more firmly, it starts to warm up – much like the hot/cold contrasting therapy used to treat strains and sprains.
Says Daliah, “Once you’ve come in from the cold and warmed up by the fire or in a hot shower, try lightly massaging Wintergreen™ Menthol Hot Gel over stiff muscles - the fresh, minty smelling menthol in the gel will relieve sore muscles, and leave you feeling cool, invigorated and ready for Apres Ski!”
Daliah's "Must-Have's" In Your First-Aid Kit
Apart from products to assist in warming and loosening muscles and ligaments, Daliah recommends a well-stocked first-aid kit to enable you to immediately take action to treat any injuries, and minimise recovery time off the slops.
“Wintergreen™ Ice Spray is one of those ‘crisis management’ products to keep on hand for acute injuries like joint sprains, bruising, swelling or muscle tears. It’s obviously not always easy to get treated for a sprain until getting to the bottom of the slope where medical personnel can assess the injury, so Ice Spray is ideal to keep with you so that you can immediately start treating the area,” she says.
The combination of Wintergreen oil, Menthol and Peppermint oil reduces the inflammatory response and acts as a topical analgesic, greatly relieving pain and slowing down swelling. The aerosol application makes it quick, hygienic and easy to use, without having to apply pressure to the painful area.
After your injury has been assessed by a medical professional, Wintergreen™ Ice Spray can be used every 3 to 4 hours for as long as the area is inflamed or painful to the touch. Once light pressure can be applied to the area, you can switch over to Wintergreen™ Icy Arnica Gel to further assist with reducing inflammation and repairing micro tears in muscles, as well as speeding up the healing of bruises.
Wintergreen™ Joint Support Spray
Mobility and agility are key to a smooth skiing or snowboarding experience, but aching, painful joints, ligaments and muscles can definitely hinder that enjoyment. Whether it’s from the wear and tear of many seasons on the slopes, returning after recovering from an injury, or even from arthritic pain, the hours spent in cold to freezing conditions on a snowy mountain can cause a lot of pain, discomfort and decreased mobility. Having a product in your first-aid kit that’s immediately effective can make a world of difference.
Says Daliah, “Wintergreen™ Joint Support Spray has an immediate soothing, cooling sensation when sprayed on the skin, and a pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory effect on the targeted area. The combination of Wintergreen oil, Arnica oil and Chondroitin promotes joint and cartilage health, and relieves muscular or joint pain and inflammation. It’s aerosol application makes it easy to apply without putting pressure on painful areas, and because it is water-based it leaves no oily residue.
Next up – Apres Ski!
In our next blog, Daliah will be sharing her favourite Wintergreen™ recovery products for use after a great day on the slopes, to ensure you are ready for more action the next day!
The Wintergreen™ range contains powerful active ingredients and are not suitable for use on children under 12 years old. They are for external use only, and should not be applied to open wounds or rashes. Always wash your hands thoroughly after use to avoid contact with your eyes.